A 54-page report quietly issued last week by the Federal Railroad Administration goes over a whole bunch of route possibilities for the proposed Houston-to-Dallas high-speed rail line as part of the required environmental impact study that is being conducted by the FRA and paid for by Texas Central (the company plans on spending more than $10 billion to construct a rail line using Japanese Shinkansen technology and some Japanese funding as we wrote in our August cover story, "On the Line").
But that's not the most interesting part. Texas Central has been vague about where exactly they plan on building a Houston train station, except to say that it most likely won't be downtown because that would be too expensive. Yet, the FRA report, (whimsically titled,"Dallas to Houston High-Speed Rail Project - Alignment Alternatives Analysis Report") now gives us an idea of what station options Texas Central is exploring in Houston. And guess what? A "downtown" station isn't entirely off the table. It's just that Texas Central has a funny definition of "downtown."
Option one has the rail line ending at 610 near Northwest Mall, meaning the station would most likely be built right around there. However, there are also two "downtown Houston" alternatives being explored, according to the report. (The report defines "downtown Houston" as beginning southwest of the U.S. 290/IH-610 junction near Northwest Mall.)
With the first "downtown" option, the line would continue toward downtown Houston, with the actual rail line being laid alongside Hempstead Road, following a Union Pacific right of way. The line would cross over 610 and I-10 before curving east toward downtown Houston. The line would end near Houston's Amtrak Station, located at 902 Washington Avenue.
With the second option, the line would again cross over 610, running along I-10, crossing Studemont, I-45 and White Oak Bayou before ending at Union Pacific's Hardy Yard. Then the line would curve east to match up with the I-10 median to follow the north side of I-10. At Studemont, the line would turn north to follow the north side of the I-10 right of way. It would then cross over I-45 entrance and exit ramps before turning east to pass over White Oak Bayou with the line ending at Union Pacific's Hardy Yard. Hardy Yard is located on the corner of North Main Street and Burnett Street, near University of Houston-Downtown, according to Swamplot.